Android 12L is a big step in the right direction for tablets

Android has never been the frontrunner when it comes to tablets – not that it’s an easy feat to compete with the iPad, but Android has always lacked the extensive functionality and app support of Apple’s flagship tablet. During Android 12L won’t be an iPad killer anytime soon, the new OS is finally starting to address issues that have persisted for the past decade.

Android 12L impressed right away. The streamlined multitasking capabilities, added app support, and a number of small but noticeable improvements to core functionality all bode well for the future of Android on the big screen. Google released 12L on its Pixel phones, but only the tablet version available in beta on the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, so glitches and missing features are to be expected, but overall Android 12L is exciting. If you’ve always been looking for a tablet experience to match your Android smartphone, this could finally be it.

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Multitasking made easy

This is arguably Android 12L’s biggest draw, and that seems to be the intention. Increasingly, tablets are expected to serve professional needs, not just entertainment, and Android isn’t up to the task. This update aims to change that by implementing a handy tool: the taskbar.


Android 12l taskbar

The compact black bar sits at the bottom of the screen and houses up to six apps, allowing you to seamlessly switch between up to two of them on a single screen. The simple drag-and-drop system feels intuitive, and on a large enough screen, the multi-window interface displays plenty of information. It’s a revelation compared to older versions of stock Android on tablets, which make it so cumbersome to switch to split-screen mode that it’s almost not worth doing.


Android 12l split drag

If the taskbar is in the way or ruining your experience, you can simply press and hold to hide it. If you decide you want it back, all you have to do is hold down the gesture handle at the bottom of the screen. Even better, if you don’t want to use the taskbar at all, you can still multitask by accessing the All Apps view of all your apps using gesture controls. Once you’ve done that, just click the “Share” button to enter a second open app on your display. It’s uncomplicated and a pleasant departure from the convoluted multi-window modes of older versions of Android.


android-12l-all-apps

A downside to the multitasking functionality is that it’s not entirely obvious how to “separate” two pages from each other. As far as I can tell, the only option is to drag the divider bracket all the way to the edge of the screen, which is fun and well-animated, but not the most streamlined way to get full again. screen experience. They’re also limited to a 50:50 split in the current beta build – no app resizing to take up more or less space. In comparison, Samsung’s The custom multi-window system gives each app a control bar from which you can close, move, or resize it. You can also save groups of apps for quick access across multiple windows, which isn’t an option in the standard 12L software.

A better experience for tablets and dual screens

As stated in the developer docs, Android 12L is not only aimed at tablets with larger screens. The new OS update is also said to make it more intuitive to use on foldable and dual-screen devices, and that should become pretty obvious once you launch Android 12L. It makes much better use of the available disk space throughout the operating system.


android-12l notification shade

Everything from the setup process to the notification shade is split in two down the middle. It saves you from unnecessary scrolling and grabbing all over the screen, which is more annoying on a large device like a tablet than it is on a phone. Even the login screen has an unlock pattern in the bottom left or right corner rather than the middle for ease of use, and you can just click on the side of the screen you want it to appear on.


android-12l login pattern

This approach is infinitely more intuitive, allowing for a simple click without having to take your hand off the device. It also significantly reduces the unsightly voids that have become so common on tablet surfaces.

Solution of the app problem

We’ve all opened an app on a tablet, only to be faced with a clunky mobile app that stretches across a larger screen. It’s ugly, outdated, and downright unreasonable at this point in technology history. Android 12L is starting to correct this terrible bug with app support by supporting all apps in split-screen mode. Of course, there are new tools and features for developers to ensure their apps work as intended on tablets, but I didn’t encounter any outstanding issues with my usual selection of apps.


Yes, most popular apps already have some form of tablet support to make the experience a bit more complete. However, there are plenty of unoptimized apps that could throw a wrench into the job, and Android 12L is designed to fix that with an improved compatibility mode that can use all the real estate of larger screens more effectively.

Again, the dual screen feature is really handy. When an unoptimized app is used in split screen mode, it looks infinitely better than the previously stretched version that users can’t stand. And while it’s not perfect, it’s a welcome improvement over older UI iterations. If you want to learn more about the technical details, our friends at Esper have one incredibly detailed deep dive on 12L.

A small update for Android, a giant leap for the tablet experience

This is the first time in a decade that Google has really cared about tablets, not since the launch of Android Jelly Bean, when Google stripped tablets down to little more than bloated phones. The user interface in Android 12L is still recognizable as Android, but it changes to make better use of screen real estate on a tablet, and the revamped multitasking features have massively increased my productivity.


Screenshot_20220408-102102

Overall, Android 12L is a clear win for Android users who have been waiting for a truly tolerable tablet experience. You’ll enjoy the same apps and features while unlocking the full potential of a large (or dual) screen device. Simply put, it looks like Android is finally entering the battle for tablet supremacy. Can’t wait to see where we go from here.



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